Bravo, Bill!

Bill Cunningham said it all with the 32 pictures (and accompanying copy) which comprised “Reality Check”, his On The Street pictorial that followed on the heels of New York Fashion Week for spring 2012, and ran in Sunday’s The New York Times. Once again, Bill Cunningham captured the essence of a week filled with countless runway shows and informal installations, and addressed the burning question: Where WERE all the day clothes????? (Not that they did not exist, but generally speaking, daywear, or work clothes, were few and far between).

There is almost no one who appreciates over the top flights of fancy and individual creativity as much as Bill. But he’s seasoned enough with his fashion historian knowledge, and smart enough to understand that this is not where it’s at; nor is it relevant for most women’s daily needs. As he put it: “Of course, there is room for the glorious kaleidoscopic diversity of designer visions shown last week on the runways. But then again, I can’t tell you how many women pulled me aside during Fashion Week and said, ‘Beautiful clothes, Bill, but nothing to wear'”.

Quite frankly, the most appropriate use of the word “day”, as it applied to designers showing in conjunction with Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, would have to be “day dreaming”. They were fantasizing  about what women want to wear, while not addressing their true needs. Let’s face it, most women are not looking for a wardrobe filled with pieces best suited for the Red Carpet or high profile fashion events, for the sole purpose of being noticed and photographed by one of the various street photographers.

As I have said countless times, it’s not about trends, but about what is good. Editors, bloggers, self professed fashion ‘experts’, and stylists can compile endless lists of as many trends as they want; it does not add up to a hill of beans if it does not look good or, if it doesn’t address the real needs of real women.

Bill’s decision to highlight Ralph Lauren’s impeccably tailored suits (the very pieces I thought were his most signature and outstanding), which were shown on Thursday morning, was spot on. As were the 9 pictures of Melissa Kuba Lederer on her way to work on 5th Avenue. I don’t know Ms. Lederer; I don’t know what she does for a living, or what business she is in; but she apparently did not attend New York Fashion Week. Yet, she all but upstaged those who did, (well, in Bill’s opinion any way), clad in a rigorously pared down yet hardly boring uniform of flattering, well fitted, beautifully cut blazers (all of them two buttoned with double vent backs), crisp shirts, narrow pants, menswear inspired two tone flat oxfords or mid high heels (high enough but not too high that she couldn’t walk!), and timeless bags (not a flashy ‘it’ bag in the lot). She knows what suits her best, and she obviously understands proportion and color. The overall effect was smart, chic, age appropriate, and thoroughly modern.

I’m not proposing that the only way to dress is in tailored menswear inspired clothing, (variety is the spice of life and there is a time and place for almost everything), but all too often, the most simplified, basic, and obvious ways to think about dressing, are all but overlooked. As Bill pointed out, “Certainly, as Chanel knew when she slipped into the clothes of her lovers, man-tailoring can be terrific on women”. The fact is, beautiful tailoring is always desirable, and always the right thing, even for an avante garde fashion icon like Daphne Guinness. As I previously mentioned, while there are enough over the top statement pieces on display at her just opened exhibit at FIT, the majority of the collection is predicated on perfectly tailored jackets and coats.

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

  1. Melissa's look is chic, stylish and very unique
    Like everyone else I am very curious about what she wears in the fall and winter

  2. Very simple…..out come my favorite suede Alberto Guardiani boots with 4 inch heels and the jackets change from linen/cotton to wool/cashmere…And when its really cold out, throw on my two outrageously multi-colored furs from 70's Paris runway shows…that's it. Thanks for all of the interest! MKL

  3. yes, Melissa looks gorgeous. Timeless, chic and truly aspirational for women of any age. I am curious to know how she winterizes her wardrobe. I find myself pondering WWMKLW — What would Melissa Kuba Lederer wear?

  4. and thanks for your comment!
    fyi, I (along with countless others) adore Verdura…

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